Data Concierge: Building a Better Data Science Operation

Bill Skelly

Data, Data Teams, Data Concierge

April 9, 2023

Data Concierge: Building a Better Data Science Operation

This was first published in INFORMS Analytics Magazine.

By 2024, Statista estimates the volume of data created, captured, copied and consumed worldwide will reach 149 zettabytes.[1]

It’s no wonder data teams are tasked with more and more data to manage. On the bright side, organizations and business leaders recognize the value of data in making informed decisions and continuing innovations to solve challenges.

But the appetite for new, better data can leave most data teams overwhelmed. Not only must they act as data managers and analysts, data scientists must also interpret the information. Then, to make it a grand slam, data teams must create visualizations and make certain the data “tells a story” to help non-technical people understand the information.

Data Team Roles

Typical data scientists have chosen their profession because they excel at linear thinking, focusing on concrete facts and logic. For many data team members, it may be a stretch to design infographics and craft stories to showcase results from their research.

It takes a special, multitalented pro to unite the left and right sides of their brain. That’s the reason to build a better data science operation.

To fulfill the needs of innovative, fast-growing organizations, data teams need specialized skillsets. A Harvard Business Review article, “Data Science and the Art of Persuasion,” lists six talents: project management, data wrangling, data analysis, subject expertise, design and storytelling.[2]

Project management: Managing timelines and budgets. Diplomatically organizing resources and getting diverse team members across departments to collaborate and speak the same language.

Data wrangling: Building systems, finding, cleaning and structuring data. Creating repeatable processes to streamline operations.

Data analysis: Identifying patterns and insights in data. Setting and testing hypotheses, then applying them to business processes.

Subject expertise: Understanding the business context of the data and focusing on the business outcomes.

Design: Creating impactful infographics, charts and tables that allow executives to make business decisions.

Storytelling: Communicating insights and findings to non-technical stakeholders. Applying narrative and data visualization for persuasive presentations.

Data Concierge Fills in the Gaps

If your team is lacking one or more of the above talents, consider creating a data concierge role within your organization or engaging a data consultant who offers the services of a data concierge.

A data concierge connects you to the necessary resources, technology and talent required to build a world-class data science operation and meet your business objectives. For example, when data teams need to present study results and recommendations, the data concierge will provide the design and storytelling to illustrate the findings to executives.

Benefits of Data Concierge

For companies struggling with getting the right talent on their data team, a data concierge is the bridge to fill-in the skills gap. Other ways a data concierge improves the impact of data teams:

  • Performs talent audits to identify roles that need to be filled or outsourced.
  • Serves as liaison to other organizational departments.
  • Translates statistician’s language to align with business terms.

As organizations harness generative AI to facilitate mundane tasks and crunch huge datasets, “asking better questions” will be critical in the efficient, effective and ethical use of the burgeoning technologies. The data concierge can support executives in identifying better questions to ask that will inform and improve the work of data teams.[3]

To overcome the often overwhelming tasks of wrangling terabytes of information, a data concierge can play a starring role in building a better data science operation. The data concierge helps to manage the expectations of stakeholders and ensures the data science team is working on projects that advance the organization's goals.

William Skelly is CEO of Causeway Solutions, a leading provider of Acquisition Analytics and innovative data services. Causeway Solutions empowers clients to make smart, timely, data-driven decisions through real-time consumer insights to better reach target audiences.


[1]: "Volume of data/information consumed worldwide,” " Statista
[2]: "Data Science and the Art of Persuasion," Harvard Business Review
[3]: "Does your big data project need a data concierge?," TechTarget